ENDNOTE #4: VISUAL/CULTURE
In this installment of ENDNOTE we bring you a reading list loosely curated along the lines of creativity, class, race, and visual culture. Featuring: questions of agency surrounding the political selfie, the dangers of “do what you love,” Ciara and object fetish, the racist origin of film, and at The Toast, a coffee break with every TV show’s favorite anonymous dead girl.
1. Selfie Control, Jenna Brager, The New Inquiry
Writes Brager: “The specter of the unintentional object, particularly an object of action—the lens of a camera, a blurred hand in motion, the barrel of a gun—in conflict or atrocity photography carries the viewer’s gaze into the margins of the photograph and outside it. Who is acting in the margins? Whose gaze do we occupy?”
2. In the Name of Love, Miya Tokumitsu, Jacobin
"Do what you love" has long been the motto of America’s burgeoning, plaintively long-suffering "creative class." But how responsible is this philosophy? Tokumitsu argues it does more harm than good, especially as it falls across class divides.
3. You Are My Ducati, Andrew Durbin, Triple Canopy
"Since first listening to Ciara’s “Ride,” her 2010 chart-topper about the reversal of expectation, gender trouble loosened in the declaration that her man is her Ducati, the mobilizing object parked in the garage that begs you, slick with rain, to take him for a spin, I’ve become obsessed with the Italian motorcycle company."
4. Teaching the Camera To See My Skin, Syreeta McFadden, Buzzfeed
This essay ought to be required reading for any consumer of mass visual culture. McFadden discusses the racist origins of Kodak film and explores new ways of photographic representation with a lyrical, compassionate hand familiar with the shutter and exposure.
5. Pretty Dead Girl Takes a Break, Helen McClory, The Toast
The eeriest thing I’ve read lately. “She peels back the plastic and gets out of the water, a little clumsy with her limbs not moving right and her blue-black blood slow shot through them. She hasn’t even opened her eyes yet, they’ve been closed that long she has to pry them with thick fingers, prop them open a while, practice her blinks.”
Have any compelling, charged, or otherwise fascinating reads? Send them to us and they might end up in ENDNOTE.
—Larissa Pham, Tumblr ed.